Last week, the Institute of Fundraising (IoF) released new guidance on protecting potentially vulnerable people, which Appco UK welcomes as an essential part of responsible fundraising.
Fundraising with People in Vulnerable Circumstances highlights Respect, Fairness, Response and Accountability as the four key principles that underpin the IoF’s ‘treating donors fairly’ approach.
The aim of the guidance is to help fundraisers “develop a greater understanding and confidence in responding to supporters appropriately, where issues of vulnerability might arise”.
Appco UK and its fundraising division, Appco Group Support, wholeheartedly supports this approach and has long had in place its own robust measures to ensure the fundraisers representing its charity partners can identify and protect people in potentially vulnerable circumstances.
Our charity partners have often insisted that other fundraising suppliers meet the same high standards that we deliver, which is helping to embed many of the above innovations as de facto industry standards.
Extra checks for donors
In 2008, Appco Group Support recognised the importance of extra checks for older donors, many of whom actively want to donate, but can also be more likely to feel obligated to give.
As a result, Appco Group Support introduced a process whereby specially trained in-house call centre agents call every single donor identified on their direct debit pledge form as being over a particular age (currently have 75 years of age, but we do review this). This is to ensure they have understood and were comfortable with the sign-up process and are happy to donate, before their direct debit is processed.
If an agent speaks to a person over the age of 75 and they deem them to be potentially vulnerable, the pledge is cancelled and is passed to our quality assurance officer for investigation with the fundraiser. If poor practice is identified then corrective measures are put in place and may lead to the fundraiser no longer being able to represent any of our clients.
If we cannot contact a donor over the age of 75, their donation will not be processed and they are highlighted to the relevant charity as a potentially vulnerable person.
Checks on fundraising locations
In 2009, Appco Group Support introduced an industry-leading territory management system, which allows us to identify demographic areas with a greater likelihood of having high concentrations of people who may be in vulnerable circumstances.
We have used this information to exclude specific locations from our fundraising activity. In April 2015, we added over 100,000 extra households to our exclusion list, specifically from areas that we identified as having higher densities of elderly – and therefore potentially vulnerable – people. This brings the total number of excluded households on our list to more than 3.6 million.
Signed confirmation donors understand their fundraising commitment
Since 2001, all donors must complete and sign a checklist as part of the sign-up process with the fundraiser to prevent potential misunderstandings.
This document confirms the donor understands they are committing to a regular, on-going donation and that the fundraiser has explained they are a paid fundraiser.
A signed form must accompany every pledge form; otherwise the donor’s pledge is not processed.
Vulnerability education for fundraisers
All fundraisers representing Appco UK’s charity partners receive coaching and information on how to spot if someone is in potentially vulnerable circumstances, and how best to politely disengage from the conversation.
Working with charities
Appco Group Support requires all our charity partners to deliver and be part of the campaign training programmes for fundraisers to ensure our values and processes align with theirs.
We also actively encourage our charity partners to spend time with our fundraisers in action speaking with members of the public, and many have done so, including a number of trustees who have found the experience very rewarding.
Appco Group Support is proud to be a professional fundraising agency and we take our responsibility to the communities in which we operate very seriously. The measures outlined above have been implemented proactively and extend above and beyond the IoF’s guidance and regulatory requirements.